I had minestrone for the first time at a random Italian restaurant somewhere near San Francisco. I don’t know why I remember this so specifically, but my dad and I had just arrived in California and decided to go to the first place we saw that looked decent. This was long before the days of relentlessly researching Google & Yelp for the spots with the best reviews. Present day Rachel would never do this now. Luckily, the place was good and I tried both minestrone and tiramisu for the first time and both became my favorite soup and dessert, respectively.
I tried making minestrone in the crockpot a couple years ago and it was a disaster. How did I fuck up minestrone? Because I’m stupid. I put the pasta in before the 8 hours of slow cooking and I woke up the next morning to a trough of mush. At the risk of sounding dramatic, that experience turned me off from trying to make it for a long time. Until yesterday, actually. The temperature dropped below 70 degrees for about 5 seconds so obviously I needed to make soup.
Minestrone is easy and versatile. It’s meant to use up leftover veggies and stuff you probably already have. It seems like everyone has a different recipe for it, too! After some research, I combined a few recipes & tips that I felt would make a hearty soup with layers and layers of flavor. None of that watered down Olive Garden bullshit.
Here’s what I did:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced pancetta
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 medium ribs of celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 medium yellow potato, chopped
- 1 small sweet potato, chopped
- 1 small zuchinni, chopped
- 1 small yellow squash, chopped
- 1/2 cup green beans, chopped in half
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 large (28oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 4 cups (32oz) chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 inch rind of parmesan cheese
- 1 cup small(ish) pasta – I used fusilli
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- freshly grated parmesan cheese for topping
- In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil on medium-high and add pancetta. Fry the pancetta until slightly crispy not too brown. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and tomato paste and sautee until the veggies are firm and onion slightly translucent, 7-8 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, zucchini, squach, green beans, oregano & thyme. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the diced tomatoes, broth, & water. Stir.
- Add the salt, bay leaves, red pepper & black pepper & parmesan rind. Stir.
- Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover partially (just have the lid on so some steam can escape). Simmer for 45 minutes.
- While the soup is going, in a separate pot, make the pasta according to box directions. Drain & set aside.
- Add spinach & lemon juice to the soup, simmer another 15-20 minutes.
- To serve: Add pasta to a bowl. Pour soup over pasta. Sprinkle lots of fresh parm on top. Enjoy!
I’m scarred from my previous experience of cooking the pasta with the soup, so I’m just keeping them separate. That way, if you freeze the soup or keep it for a few days, the pasta won’t ever get soggy! A tiny bit of extra work for a much better experience, IMO.
I’m super happy with how this came out!! The pancetta adds a deeper flavor, but you can certainly omit it in the interest of vegetarianism. The parmesan rind was an interesting ingredient that I found in my research, but it also adds a pop of flavor and richness to the soup.
What are your favorite seasonal soups??